Monday, June 09, 2008

Morning Edition - 6/9/08



…And That’s How Cocoa Was Born
Over twenty years ago, while living in Plainfield, New Jersey, I came face-to-face with my reality as a Puerto Rican man of color. A young black woman approached me during a barbecue and asked where my accent was from. Shocked that I even had one – an accent that is – I simply said, “I’m Puerto Rican.” The woman took one step back and said, “Child please…why is it that black men can’t just be black? …they always tryin’ to be somethin’ more exotic and shit.” Offended, I explained that although I may be a man of color and look like many of the African American men who were in attendance, I was Puerto Rican. The argument was short-lived, but the discussion lived on in my head for quite some time. I always knew I was perceived to be an African American man at first glance, but that reality didn’t diminish the enormous pride in my heart for my culture; being Puerto Rican. For years, I struggled between what others perceived and what I believed in my heart to be an obvious reality. Then, just before my twentieth birthday, it hit me. Regardless of what anyone thought, perceived, believed or felt, I was a Puerto Rican man who just happens to be cocoa-colored. To be clear, there’s nothing wrong with being African American – if you’re African American – but if you’re Korean and someone insists that you’re Chinese, it’s a problem; a problem I let the ignorant dwell on today. As I enjoyed the Puerto Rican Day Parade with my girls Chocolate and Pumpkin yesterday, I marveled at how I was among more than two million other Puerto Ricans celebrating our culture, our heritage, our homeland in all its amazing splendor and with all our different influences and complexions. I was never one to be pigeon-holed by anyone, so I knew that choosing to create and tattoo Cocoa Rican on my right arm was my reconciling my pride in who I am and who I will always be.

On Blast
Perception is reality…or is it? Has anyone judged you based on your appearance and got it wrong?

Keep passin’ the open windows…

12 comments:

j_shanlin said...

::sucks teeth:: I want to be puerto rican too!

bLaQ~n~MiLD said...

Actually yes but it was because I purposefully presented myself as something I wasn't just for kicks. My first time going to jury duty I put on the baggiest jeans and white T, my silver chang and my fitted to the back. When I was called on by the judge and asked his series of questions, my answers caused the other jurors to look at me in amazement. Not only did I have a job, but I worked for a large corporation, read the Wall Street Journal daily, and played golf. Needless to say, they gagged! LoL

~Damnit!

Darius T. Williams said...

Of course...especially being a gay black man, which has qualms all of its own. I just came out to someone over IM today. She was shocked and said she had no idea. She even said she had a crush on me too. Well, isn't that something.

But um, I miss NYC - because when it's time for the Puerto Rican day parade, everyone is Puerto Rican.

PS: um, welcome back sir!

Caspar608 said...

she sho nuff was an ignoramus to assume you were putting on an act...

Mr. Jones said...

First, that bitch was ignant.

Second, I've told you time and time again that you have a very distinct and quintessential NY accent with a sprinkle of Carribean. You didn't believe me???? LOL.

Third, I learned a loooong time ago that presentation is everything in life. One of my mantras is: reputation is key...guard it with your life.

As an aside...where the heck have you been? I called that office twoce this morning and got a busy signal each time. I thought this was quite queer, so I tried again. Same result.

I said to myself...damn, I hope the authorities didn't round him up with the other illegals. You know that student VISA expired decades ago when you graduated Maryland. ;-)

Joey Bahamas said...

I get called African American all the time, and when I correct people sometimes African Americans get upset. I don't care though...I'm Bahamian...now if you want to get nasty about it I can do that. But I try not to go that route...

Caspar608 said...

Howre you today Mr. Magic ; )

Caspar608 said...

I'm a Rican, he's a Rican, she's a Rican, they's a Rican...wouldn't you like to be a Rican too?

I always pronounced Bahamians like Bey-juns...am I saying this right Joey? Please let me know if I am doing it right or wrong....

That Dude Right There said...

Thankfully, the only thing that I have been mistaken for is a extra mean bitch! Sometimes I even play along.

Soldier said...

Ha ha... i feel u on that one

technically i'm african/carib-european lol... trust me its HAAARD... especially when you are really attached to every single culture that make your mix...

in Africa they think im saying that im french to appear better than others but my mother is french, and i grew up in paris... should i deny that my mother exists ? lol

in the caribbean, people think i say that im also african to be more " real " lol

in the US, i get the same thing u get, people think i wanna look " exotic " which is crazy, people completely forget that im not american and sometimes say stuff like " stop actin slow " when i ask people to repeat themselves... to which i reply " can you speak french ??? " lol

its crazy... its only in europe that i dont have to explain anything

fuzzy said...

lol! me to Jared, me too! However I often get confused for more ethnicities than the one that I actually am! I get judged as ghetto, gay, mean, and old. All based upon my facial expressions and how I walk and talk. I am mistaken for Haitian, Dominican, mixed breed, southern and others based upon how I talk, how I wear my hair and sometimes personality. I take it a compliment to be labeled as a part of many cultures. I would like to be Hispanic in the worst way!

Ty said...

Well you already know from my blogs that I get twisted up all of the time. The latest is when I had to convince someone that I am half black. I was like wtf, I look more black than Dominican.

I also get twisted when people think that I'm stuck up because of how I dress or talk. Or when bruhs avoid me because they think I can't relate.